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Season ticket sales are on the rise

By Gavin Mairs

A number of our readers have complained that as Ulster season ticket holders they weren't able to purchase their usual seats in the stand for Ireland's World Cup warm-up match against Italy on Friday.

The reason for this is that Ulster season tickets only cover the province's Magners League and Heineken Cup matches.

The game last Friday was an IRFU match and, as for any international match, most of the tickets - including all stand tickets - were distributed through rugby clubs and schools or taken up by corporate clients.

On this occasion, Ulster season ticket holders did gain the advantage of being able to purchase promenade or terrace tickets a week before tickets went on sale to the general public.

The match was a 14,100 sell-out, a figure which could have been doubled if the ground had a bigger capacity.

Despite the disappointing end to last season, Ulster's season ticket sales are already up 10 per cent to 4,250. They can still be purchased up until Friday.

* A major improvement to the Magners League this season will see the introduction of television match officials for the new campaign.

The move will only be for the televised matches, but with Celtic Rugby's broadcasting almost 70 per cent of the games, it will encompass a vast majority of the fixtures.

A statement from Celtic Rugby said: "Celtic Rugby has announced that, in conjunction with its live broadcast partners and the host Unions, from the start of the coming season Television Match Officials (TMOs) will be appointed at all televised Magners League games to assist in situations where the referee is unsure of a score.

"The Magners League has three live television broadcast partners: BBC Wales, S4C and Setanta Sports, who between them show around 70% of each season's matches.

" When called upon the TMO will follow the International Rugby Board Protocol, which is already in use at international matches, to advise the referee on whether or not points have been scored."

In a further move aimed at improving on field disciplinary matters, and to take the onus off participating teams, Celtic Rugby has also announced it is introducing Independent Citing Commissioners to officiate at all Magners League matches.

David Jordan, Celtic Rugby director said: "We are always endeavouring to raise standards and to organise the Tournament and matches to have a consistency with other professional rugby competitions. The changes being introduced are designed to improve the decision making and disciplinary processes."

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